A £19.5 million government grant that was promised to Wycombe District Council to help bring forward new housing developments is now hanging in the balance – forcing the council to “risk” ploughing its own cash into the project to get it moving.

The Government was set to fund the £7.5 million realignment of Abbey Barn Lane and hand over £12 million for the Princes Risborough expansion area, it was announced in February – but after revealing that Wycombe District Council had won its bid, the Government has decided there should be a second stage, meaning all bids are being scrutinised again.

Fearing the cash could be taken away if the district council does not act urgently, it was agreed on Monday night that £500,000 of the council’s own money should be ploughed into the Princes Risborough project.

Cllr Alan Turner said that while WDC waits for more information on the second-stage of the process, half a million pounds should be used so the project can start in case the Government decides it is not “urgent” enough.

He said: “The whole idea of these bids was to unlock housing developments to bring them forward more quickly. It was the argument particularly for Risborough.

“However we are still waiting for information on the second stage scrutiny process. I believe we need to start the expansion area work for Princes Risborough.

“We all recognise the risk of doing this in terms of the council being able to recover these funds. We could reasonably argue that the £500,000 could be recovered from developer contributions.

“There is some risk that WDC may not be able to recover the money. We could offset the £500,000 through the bid but there is the risk we could lose the award and we don’t make the money back.

“Equally, if we don’t make a start, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government may conclude there’s no urgency or commitment on our part and withdraw the offer – I believe the latter risk is the greater and that’s why I'm asking cabinet to support this forward funding.

“The biggest risk if we don’t move this forward is that we are seriously risking the loss of the £12 million funding – purely because they could say we don’t need it that badly. We have to ensure we prove we are serious.”

Councillors on the cabinet agreed that that half a million pounds should be put into the project and the cash will be used to fund feasibility, design work and project team costs.